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Nature-y things to see/places to stay

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San Diego, CA
posts: 19
reviews: 12
Nature-y things to see/places to stay

In August, we are staying 2-3 nights at Kalahari in Wisconsin Dells. We are coming all the way from California, and would like to stay a few more nights (weeknights) elsewhere in Wisconsin. We are a couple in our 30s with a 3 year old daughter. She doesn't get much nature in the big city, and we would love to have her experience some on our summer vacation. Budget is < $125/night. We will probably fly into MSP or Chicago, and places that are roughly on the way to the Dells from those airports have a slight preference. Things that are unique have a larger preference. We are open to anything from cabins to houseboats to hotels.

Thank you for your responses!

Chicago Suburbs
posts: 2,722
reviews: 22
1. Re: Nature-y things to see/places to stay

Visit the Kalahari on the weekdays, when rates might be lower and crowds down. Visit Devils Lake State Park on a weekend; they should have good naturalist programs then.

Destination Expert
for Illinois, Chicago
posts: 4,915
reviews: 193
2. Re: Nature-y things to see/places to stay

if you end up coming minneapolis way, i suggest going north for your few extra days... in august, the weather can be hot and dry in the southern half of wisc....and rather boring....

that said, i'd say forget devil's lake (in october or in winter, well, that's a different story--it's beautiful)..... if you go north, straight up US-51 to lake superior, you will be wowed by what you'll see....

my top recommendation for your trip would be porcupine mountains state park (yep, we actually do have mountains in the midwest)... it'll be about 5 hours from both the dells and MPL, but WELL WORTH IT!!!!

ANOTHER option would be to visit the apostle islands national park in nw wisc... bayfield is a quaint town along the shores of lake superior... it's about 2-3 hours from MPL....

if you come via chicago, you could spend a few days in door county, wisc, along the shore of lake michigan.... it's about a 3-4 hr drive from chicago and the dells..... you can explore several state and county parks in the area...








but all things considered, whether you come via MPL or ORD, the most nature and scenery bang for the buck will be upper michigan, along the lake superior shoreline....

end of story.

Destination Expert
for Milwaukee
posts: 9,199
reviews: 62
3. Re: Nature-y things to see/places to stay

I would not go as far as the Michigan Upper Peninsula or the Apostle Islands if you only have a few days. That is a lot of driving.

There are nice state parks scattered throughout Wisconsin. You might check out the website to get some ideas and there are links to other sites too. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/findapark.html

If you are coming from Minneapolis you might look at staying around Black River Falls near the interstate or go over to the Mississippi River and stay somewhere along the river.

If you are heading to Chicago you might stay along the Wisconsin River at Spring Green or go further south to Mineral Point or New Glarus.

San Diego, CA
posts: 19
reviews: 12
4. Re: Nature-y things to see/places to stay

Sadly, the group we are meeting up with is a weekend only group.

I will look into Devil's Lake.

Apostle Islands National Park looks beautiful!

That is probably my travel limit - 4-5 hours from the Dells. I'm sure Michigan is beautiful, but 8 hours travel is probably too much for the 3 year old.

Destination Expert
for Milwaukee
posts: 9,199
reviews: 62
5. Re: Nature-y things to see/places to stay

Have you looked at flights into Madison or Milwaukee? Madison may be more expensive, but Milwaukee flights are often competitive with Chicago airfares and it's much easier to navigate the airport and traffic in Milwaukee.

Destination Expert
for Wisconsin, Colorado Springs
posts: 5,345
reviews: 107
6. Re: Nature-y things to see/places to stay

consider the Great River Road:

http://wigrr.com/ You could do the houseboat thing possibly. Check out La Crosse.

Other areas of interest in those areas are Wyalusing State Park.

New Glarus, WI is lovely (Sugar River State trail behind the motel Chalet Landhaus)


quaint, scenic and has some neat things nearby: www.swisstown.com

Check out New Glarus Brewing the new facility atop the hill.



Monroe is cheese heaven!

Argyle has the Toy Train Barn:


The House on the Rock is a must (kitschy) in Spring Green:


of course Devil's Lake, Parfrey's Glen.....Arbor State Park in the Dells...back to Baraboo area (near the Dells) is also:

Circus World Museum (a must) and the International Crane Foundation:


http://circusworld.wisconsinhistory.org/ great grounds for a picnic

www.wisconsinbigcats.org/index.php… near Baraboo.

Midcontinent Railway in North Freedom (near Baraboo)


Destination Expert
for Illinois, Chicago
posts: 4,915
reviews: 193
7. Re: Nature-y things to see/places to stay

it wont be 8 hours. it will be about 5 each way. it's about 7-8 hours from chicago.... if you leave the dells in the morning, you'll be at the porkies by early afternoon, and since the sun sets rather late up there, you'll have plenty of daylight....

my thinking is if you're traveling all the way from california, presumably to meet friends/relatives in wisc, you might as well experience the best this region has to offer on your 'free' time... you will find the dells area is a somewhat of a tacky (i'm being generous here) tourist trap, mainly geared towards kids and teens....

during the heat of summer, and after an exhausting weekend in the dells, wouldn't it be great to get away from it all?

Edited: 8:56 pm, January 18, 2013
8. Re: Nature-y things to see/places to stay

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